“Not quite magical realism it transcends both realism and fantasy” – Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi

On her Twitter feed Liliana Colanzi describes herself as a paranormal investigator. If when reading that you think of someone wearing a grey jumpsuit who tears around New York in pursuit of supernatural ghouls well then sorry you are in for a disappointment. Liliana Colanzi’s stories are much more subtle and have far more substance than that.

 The first story in the collection “The Eye” sets the tone. The main character is a teenage girl who must endure the attention of her overly religious mother. Try as she might her mother’s presence hovers over her life. She conforms with the expectations forced upon her. Meanwhile her university professor tells her to learn to disobey. Her rebellion comes in the form of an act of defilement with a fellow student who had previously rejected her.

Something moves beneath the surface of each of these stories. Something which is not quite tangible but which for the protagonist, deeply disturbing. An unknown, unseen, force which transcends both time and space and moves the story toward its inevitable conclusion. 

In “Cannibal” a couple trafficking drugs arrive in Paris the same time that a cannibal is loose in the city. The young woman, Vanessa, goes missing and the unnamed narrator is left worrying about her fate. Based on past experiences he imagines what Vanessa is up to and her inevitable fate. In the process, he reveals a secret from his own past. Meanwhile reports on the news continually run stories of the cannibal on the loose in Paris.

Undoubtedly these stories are South American in character. Native culture interacts with the cosmopolitan 21st century and is denigrated without its influence being clearly acknowledged.

“The Wave” relates the story of a young woman from Bolivia who’s studying in Cornell University. Her mother phones with the news that her father, now ill, has fallen and injured himself. The woman begins her journey back to Santa Cruz the city to which she said she’d never return.  The Wave in question is a rather disturbing force which moves relentlessly through the World leaving malevolence in its wake.

“From my porch I could see the Wave embracing the city with its long pale arms. The whiteness refracted all visions, amplifying the voices of the dead and the tracks of deer migrating toward the false safety of the forest.”

Any Cop?: The unknown, the mysterious, the other is present in each of the stories in this collection. This collection is hard to categorise, not quite magical realism it transcends both realism and fantasy. Bolivian writer Liliana Colanzi has an utterly unique voice, and one which is destined for further success.


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